Decent work

Decent work versus jobs for jobs’ sake

I am not trying to punt jobs for jobs’ sake. Often jobs involve back-breaking manual labour, for example farming, that aren’t well paid. Creating or supporting a job isn’t worth much if that job regularly exposes an employee to toxins or doesn’t provide a sustainable wage. Demand for local products/labour enables unions and individuals to negotiate decent working conditions and decent pay. Minimum wages often end up being maximum wages: Many employers are only willing to pay the minimum wage though it is not enough to live on. This became obvious from the recent strikes in mines and around seasonal farm labour. In the balance of power, for example in the food industry, the farmers are at the bottom of the pyramid, ie at the mercy of the food processors and retailers. The good news is that we consumers wield the largest amount of commercial pressure, so we can side with farmers – and indirectly – their employees.

Where appropriate, I have tried to point out where ‘local’ is currently clashing with ‘decent’. I also address possible (mis)conceptions of decent pay in connection with domestic work.